A Brief History of The Spanish Flu and the Great Depression

After Canada suffered 50,000 casualties due to the first World War, Canada would lose another 50,000 people in one year, from the roaring ’20s were jobs. The economy was prosperous, to the collapse of the stock market near the end of 1929, which kicked off a decade-long Depression, with a drought in the prairie provinces which forced the government to make a better, more vital social-welfare program. Near the end of World War I, the Spanish flu devastated communities world-wide. Influenza would kill between 20 and 100 million world-wide, including around 50,000 people in Canada from 1918-1919. In British Columbia, the death rate for non-natives was 6.21 per 1,000 people, and for the native populous, it was 46 per 1000 people. The roaring 20’s brought promise back to Canada’s great land, and many women continued to work, experimented with illegal contraceptives, and postponed marriage. The economy was booming and on its way up. It would be short-lived as the markets crashed in the later part of 1929, which would bring in a decade-long Depression. The Great Depression devastated many people throughout Canada, and the economy would suffer greatly.

Canada was amongst the top countries in the world whose economy and citizens were affected the worst because of The Great Depression. Millions of people in Canada were homeless, unemployed, and suffered from hunger, where some would succumb to starvation. A brutal drought throughout the prairies left farmers and others jobless and left the rest of Canada suffering from a lack of raw materials and farming exports.  The collapse of the stock markets that kickstarted The Great Depression affected many except those who already were wealthy, the rich working class. Economically overall, it was a disaster, and the middle class and the poor were a disaster. There was next to nothing for welfare to cover the necessities for life in Canada: food and water, clothing, and shelter.

By 1933, as high as 30 percent of labourers were out of work, which forced one in five Canadians to become dependent on government relief to survive. The unemployment rate would remain well above 12 percent all the up until the start of World War II. There were several factors in regards to what made the Great Depression worse in Canada than in other countries.  The government effort at a countrywide social-welfare structure from their first attempt proved to be inefficient. The government tried to address the issues by passing specific policies, but it too proved not to work. Over a third of the Gross National Income of Canada came from its exports. The collapse of international trade hit Cadinenes and their economy devastatingly hard. The four provinces furthest west depended only on primary-product exports, making those provinces the most seriously impacted during the Great Depression in Canada.

The Depression forced the government the expand and proper organization of social welfare, which would lead to the Back of Canada Act being passed by Bennett’s government in 1934, which led to the Bank of Canada being founded in 1935. That same year the Canadian Wheat Board was also established to put a minimum price for wheat. Finally, by 1940, the federal government introduced an unemployment insurance system. Right before that time, the second world war broke out, which led to The Manhattan Project in the United States, the splitting of the atom and the destruction of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which forced Japan out of the war, which led to the end of the world war.

The Spanish flu killed as many people in Canada in one year as the first world killed. The roaring twenties was a prosperous time for the economy and jobs, and it was primarily met by peacetime. The crash of the stock market in October of 1929 led to a decade long drought and Depression that negatively impacted the middle class and lacking the most, as well as the prairie provinces, to the start of the second world war, which lead to even more women in the workforce, women were given more rights, it leads to many more women movements, such as equal pay feminist movements, to better treatment first nations, blacks, Asians and other minorities. Canada as a whole would benefit through social-welfare security, better education, more rights for women and other individuals.

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